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How does the uDac honestly stack up? - Page 5

post #61 of 82
I also own both uDAC and DAC-EXTASY. for untrained noob as me. both sound good. EXTASY is a little more clean and airy BUT I won't say it is better or worst because both uDAC and EXTASY has its own flaws. I personally emailed hotaudio40 regard these flaws so he can improve upon them.

Just keep in mind, DO NOT use easy to drive phone directly into EXTASY, get a volume controller or impedance adapter else it will turn your headphone into a speaker and there are noticeable hiss with sensitive phone.

I like the sound signature of EXTASY a little better but uDAC (RCA out) is more versatile for easy to drive phone with build in volume control.
post #62 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hsiu View Post
I also own both uDAC and DAC-EXTASY. for untrained noob as me. both sound good. EXTASY is a little more clean and airy BUT I won't say it is better or worst because both uDAC and EXTASY has its own flaws. I personally emailed hotaudio40 regard these flaws so he can improve upon them.

Just keep in mind, DO NOT use easy to drive phone directly into EXTASY, get a volume controller or impedance adapter else it will turn your headphone into a speaker and there are noticeable hiss with sensitive phone.

I like the sound signature of EXTASY a little better but uDAC (RCA out) is more versatile for easy to drive phone with build in volume control.
What flaws did you find in the Extasy? I'd be curious to hear you amplify on that a little (no pun intended) - instead of just saying "it has flaws," maybe you could provide some more detail. What are those flaws? Can you describe them?

From what I can hear, I wouldn't exactly say the Extasy has flaws. I would say it lacks the refinement that you naturally would find as you go up the price ladder, which is something different from a flaw, and is completely to be expected at the price point. If that didn't happen, everything would cost $99.

That's different from having actual *flaws,* like the fizzy high end, midbass bump, etc. of the uDAC. Some of that - like the bump, or the recessed mids - can sometimes be written off as "preference." Some people, for example, do like the midrange more recessed, or the mid bass slightly boosted. I don't, but some people do. From the standpoint of neutrality it's a flaw, but it can also still be a preference.

But something like a thin and fizzy high end goes beyond preference to being an actual flaw. If someone says they prefer a thin and fizzy high end, then you should start being suspicious of their motives, experience, etc. No one should prefer that, it's a flaw. It's like saying you prefer having distortion.

Like I said, the Extasy has none of those kinds of flaws that I can hear. Again, it's just a question of more refinement that you would get by spending more, which is to be expected. Imo, that's different from a flaw, which is an obvious mistake or failing in the sound that shouldn't be there.
post #63 of 82
Very apealing device... I want a udac.
post #64 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by 11amaberry View Post
Very apealing device... I want a udac.
Should go good with your skullcandies.
post #65 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hsiu View Post
I also own both uDAC and DAC-EXTASY. for untrained noob as me. both sound good. EXTASY is a little more clean and airy BUT I won't say it is better or worst because both uDAC and EXTASY has its own flaws. I personally emailed hotaudio40 regard these flaws so he can improve upon them.

Just keep in mind, DO NOT use easy to drive phone directly into EXTASY, get a volume controller or impedance adapter else it will turn your headphone into a speaker and there are noticeable hiss with sensitive phone.

I like the sound signature of EXTASY a little better but uDAC (RCA out) is more versatile for easy to drive phone with build in volume control.
Yes that is true....

It does have 'hiss' with certain headphones and it IS Extremely powerful.

Don't use IEMS or EAR BUDs with this DAC.

And ALWAYS start out with the volume turned DOWN before playing any music!!!! VERY IMPORTANT!!!

If you could also list the headphones it has hiss with I'd be very appreciative of that.

I will then do experiments to eliminate that hiss on future designs.

I have really only designed the DAC-EXTASY to work with the top full sized headphones....

I wasn't really thinking about it being used with anything but the Grado or Sennheiser HD series headphones.

I mean if you're going to spend $499 to $1500 on headphones, you for sure will need a good source to drive them ???

The DAC EXTASY can NOT and SHOULD not be used with any IEMs or ear bud style headphones.

NEVER USE THE DAC-EXTASY with EAR BUD or IEM style headphones....


I was VERY surprised by the POWER the Wolfon chip had....

It took me completely by surprise.

It goes SO loud on my headphones that no additional amplifier is necessary.

And for sure WILL NOT WORK WITH EAR BUD or IEMS!

Don't even try to use it with them.

It is ONLY meant for FULL SIZED headphones and real expensive ones at that...

I am thinking of making a 'patch cable' or maybe even putting a switch in it for different types of headphones....

However it is and was NEVER my intention to make this DAC compete against the uDAC or any other DAC for that matter.

It is a different kind of DAC.

Not multi-purpose.

It only has ONE purpose....

I really should have priced the DAC-E much more carefully....

It isn't really meant for the 'noob'.. no insults intended for all you 'noobies'... I was a 'noob' once too...

I don't want anyone trying the DAC-E with the wrong type of headphones or damaging their ears by playing music too loud.

That was NEVER my intention.

And I now realize that the DAC-E was in reach of the 'noobie' and the 'noobie' budget... and that was a mistake...

It then of course made it seem like an 'budget' or intro DAC....

I never saw that happening... but I see the flaws in my logic now...

I have fixed that flaw for now.

I find the dynamics of the whole audio scene quite fasinating....
post #66 of 82
hi hotaudio, it's great to have DAC designers on the forum...so we can ask them silly questions ^^

my cd1k is 32Ω/104dB(same drivers as the cd3k) and is dead easy to drive...anything like a NJM4580 and I'm in business

if you click on "tech notes" on this link: Auzentech, Inc. X-Fi Home Theater HD

they show this, to explain that plugging headphones directly to a line-out would be a terrible idea impedance-wise(it's a nag against Creative I guess): http://www.auzentech.com/site/images...l_3498a465.png

but the fact is that both the line-out of my Firestone Spitfire external DAC and the Asus STX seem to drive my headphones perfectly fine.....OTOH, the line-out on the Prodigy HD2 was extremely dull(very flabby bass response, but its NJM4580 HP out was nearly perfect to my ears), the CMI8768 DSP also has a built-in 32Ω headphones driver, and does a pretty decent job compared to its uber-low cost(apparently my cd1k needs a gain of 2, whatever that means).

so does that mean that true line-out hardly exists anymore? in the STX manual, Asus actually advises to plug headphones to the line-out...
post #67 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by leeperry View Post
hi hotaudio, it's great to have DAC designers on the forum...so we can ask them silly questions ^^

my cd1k is 32Ω/104dB(same drivers as the cd3k) and is dead easy to drive...anything like a NJM4580 and I'm in business

if you click on "tech notes" on this link: Auzentech, Inc. X-Fi Home Theater HD

they show this, to explain that plugging headphones directly to a line-out is a terrible idea impedance-wise: http://www.auzentech.com/site/images...l_3498a465.png

but the fact is that both the line-out of my Firestone Spitfire external DAC and the Asus STX seem to drive my headphones perfectly fine.....OTOH, the line-out on the Prodigy HD2 was extremely dull(very flabby bass response), the CMI8768 DSP also has a built-in 32Ω headphones driver, and does a pretty decent job compared to its uber-low cost(apparently my cd1k needs a gain of 2, whatever that means).

so does that mean that true line-out hardly exists anymore?

lol, a technical question...

Well I had to look up the 'definition' of line-output and there appears to be 3 standards all based around the 'level' of the output as in voltage level....

Line level outputs were never meant to 'drive' low impedances.... nothing really lower then say 10,000 Ohms.

BUT of course all the new op-amps and line driver devices can almost all drive much lower loads.

Every output device I've seen can drive down to 300 Ohms,

If the sound seems 'flat' it is probably because the driver IC wasn't meant to drive the load you're driving.


I have noticed that in the past line level outputs were very powerful, voltage wise, very high levels of output voltage, which back then they needed to be in order to drive power amps hard.

As ICs became more efficient and ran off lower and lower voltages, the line levels seem to have dropped....

Now I see "line-levels" at about .65 Volts RMS, but I believe the 'true' line-level is about 1.7 Volts RMS as output by the Wolfson chips I use....

But that is VERY powerful... and scary loud compared to todays' line-levels....

I like the old standard, BUT don't go running that level into todays' amps or you may be in for a surprise.

I've also notice most mainstream CD players still conform to the old 'line-level' standard and I think that is because they run off real AC power supplies.

Most modern chips run off of 5 Volt or even 3.3 Volt Power supplies and therefore don't go as high as the old standard which ran off split power supplies of say +/- 15 Volts.

To get good sound out of any output it has to be able to deliver CURRENT and deliver it FAST....

My short answer
post #68 of 82
dacmagic and vdac "blows away" the udac
post #69 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by koven View Post
dacmagic and vdac "blows away" the udac
lol - for 3-5x the price.

Have you heard a uDAC? I notice in your sig you have a Pico - how would you compare those two (if you have in fact heard a uDAC)? People in the uDAC thread were saying they preferred it to the Pico, which was a surprise to me never having heard the Pico, but only having heard good things about it. If it really is comparable, someone's price is wrong somewhere (and the utility of the forum is drastically called into question).
post #70 of 82
I've owned the uDac for a couple months and I really enjoy it. It was a huge step up from laptop sound and better than my Xonar STX with my speakers and phones. For $105 shipped you can't go wrong.

However, I am a source-first kinda guy, and my next DAC will cost as much as I can justify; $1000-2000 most likely. The cheapo uDac has shown me how much a better source can improve things. From here, the only "logical" thing is to take it as far as my wallet allows.

I will always keep the uDac around for a secondary system. The case is bulletproof and very small, and needs no external power source. If my daughter gets a hold of it I don't think she'll break it. In the real world, these things do matter.
post #71 of 82
The uDac is great for a laptop rig; you can listen to great sound through your portable cans/IEMs on the road, and use the RCA outs for more powerful amplification at home if needed.

I particulary like how I get no hiss out of the uDac with my "hissy" IEMs.

The uDac will drive many of the more efficient full-size headphones as well, all by itself. The digital out is an added bonus, and at this price this combination of features and SQ is unbeatable, IMHO.
post #72 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by hotaudio40 View Post
Well I had to look up the 'definition' of line-output and there appears to be 3 standards all based around the 'level' of the output as in voltage level....
[..]
Now I see "line-levels" at about .65 Volts RMS, but I believe the 'true' line-level is about 1.7 Volts RMS as output by the Wolfson chips I use....

But that is VERY powerful... and scary loud compared to todays' line-levels....

I like the old standard, BUT don't go running that level into todays' amps or you may be in for a surprise.

I've also notice most mainstream CD players still conform to the old 'line-level' standard and I think that is because they run off real AC power supplies.

Most modern chips run off of 5 Volt or even 3.3 Volt Power supplies and therefore don't go as high as the old standard which ran off split power supplies of say +/- 15 Volts.

To get good sound out of any output it has to be able to deliver CURRENT and deliver it FAST....
thanks for the reply! but you often read about 2VRMS line-out: 2vrms line-out - Google Search

and I fail to understand how the voltage of a line-out can change the impedance response, and offer the ability to drive headphones properly....as a true "old fashion" line-out will give a very dull sound w/ flabby bass on headphones IME(just like that graph from auzen).

if I understand correctly, it's not quite due to the increased voltage...but more because of opamps driving the line-out? but the STX and the Spitfire run a LM4562, which is said to drive headphones pretty poorly? and the CMI8768 DSP and the Sabre DAC in the uDAC don't use any opamp...they have a built-in headphones driver within their ASIC...OTOH, I tried the line-out of the Musiland 02US and it was very dull on my cd1k.

so nowadays "line out level" doesn't mean anything anymore? ah well, the mysteries of audio gear

PS: on the gamma2 DAC, they advise to put NJM4580 as output opamps to drive headphones directly..
post #73 of 82
lol, yes basically the line-output is NOT meant to drive headphones....

In that respect the numbers don't mean too much...

When they do become important is when they are used to drive line-inputs.

Then the number DO become important depending on the gain of your amplifier.

If you've got a high gain amplifier you don't want to push it with allot of voltage or you'll overdrive it....

I don't know the specs on the LM4562 but I'm sure it drives some headphones really well.

Many IC now have buffer stages that can drive 32 Ohm loads pretty good, but if you look at the specs on these chips they always give away a bit of fidelity to do so....

If you check out the specs, they will usually be best at 10,000 Ohms and from there will drop down as you approach 32 or 16 Ohms or even 8 Ohms as some of the more robust chips with even drive that low... but usually suffering 1% THD loss, but even at 1% THD they still sound pretty amazing...

I've noticed very considerable improvements in Audio during the last couple years....

It's amazing what they pack into these new ICs...

If you try the Musiland 02US through a buffer stage, also called an 'amplifier', I bet it would sound amazing.

That way you take the load off of the chips that are designed for giving you precise voltage levels and very low noise levels, and they do that very well, and give the job of providing CURRENT and GAIN to the next stage (amplifier) and that will drive the headphones as it was meant to do.

Many newer chips provide 'buffer' stages that can drive headphones directly while still maintaining a very precise and accurate sound.

But again, when something is designed for a specific purpose, it usually does its' intended use very very well...

A pure DAC device will almost always outperform a DAC - AMP combo device if the next stage is well designed and matched up good....
post #74 of 82
uDac for 100 bucks in a no brainer if you want to get a taste, but it's not going to beat stuff 3x it's price.

it's just a good dac, that's portable (my travel partner) and enjoyable.
post #75 of 82

My two cents

I actually purchased a uDac for my little brother, who's one of those uninitiated "audiophile waiting to happen" types; every time I upgrade his setup he immediately appreciates the difference and can tell me exactly how the new product is better (or in certain cases worse). Basically he has fantastic ears and absolutely no technical inclinations whatsoever. The uDac was my first entree into transitioning him from listening to 128 aacs on a laptop to getting some decent FLAC source material and an outboard DAC. He absolutely loved it. I thought it was pretty damn decent for the price. That being said, given my experience both listening and building audio gear (I work for Jim Carbary at AAT) overall it's a pretty terrible DAC. It's one of the least neutral dacs I've ever heard, the bass is boomy and bloated and the treble is thin and weak. Mid-range is probably it's strong suit; it's reasonably open and transparent from say 800 - 4500 hz or so. All in all, if you're willing to spend a little more, I'd strongly recommend the StyleAudio Carat-Emerald. For a portable, bus-powered laptop audio solution (there is a wall-wart but honestly it doesn't actually make a huge difference), I have never heard anything that competes at that price range.
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